Australian GP Practice One: Lewis Hamilton fastest in Mercedes one-two
But Red Bull quicker on supersoft tyres while Ferrari opt against lengthy runs
By Pete Gill and James Galloway
Last Updated: 30/03/17 11:30am
Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the first session of the 2017 F1 season as Mercedes topped the timesheets in Practice One for the Australian GP.
Hamilton outpaced new team-mate Valtteri Bottas by over half a second in what was, on the surface, a tough first official session for the Finn as a Mercedes driver.
The two Mercedes were the only cars in the field to set their fastest time on ultrasofts - the quickest tyre in Pirelli's portfolio.
Hamilton's lap time of 1:24.220 was over five seconds faster than the benchmark time in the corresponding session a year ago as F1 2017 instantly delivered on its promise of rapid increases in speed.
Red Bull pair Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were third and fourth fastest respectively. However, Ricciardo was the quickest driver of all on the supersoft compound - the first hint, perhaps, of the team's true potential.
As expected, the Red Bull car has been heavily revised since winter testing with the team introducing a series of aerodynamic improvements for the season curtain-raiser. Engine suppliers Renault have also introduced fixes for their winter reliability problems.
But Ferrari kept their cards close to their chest throughout the 90-minute session in which Sebastian Vettel was a spectator for the bulk of proceedings as the Scuderia declined to use up precious engine life on a dusty circuit.
Vettel eventually set a competitive lap time in the final 15 minutes when he recorded a 1:25.464 on supersofts.
As expected, McLaren endured a torrid start to the new season. While Fernando Alonso reached the respectability of 14th in the timesheets, the car of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne suffered a water leak and the young Belgian finished last of the 20 runners.
There was at least one crumb of comfort for the team: their car didn't break down on track - a vast improvement, of sorts, on their experiences at winter testing.
Australian GP Practice One Timesheet
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:24.220
2. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, +0.583
3. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, +0.666
4. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, +1.026
5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, +1.152
6. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, +1.244
7. Felipe Massa, Williams, +1.922
8. Romain Grosjean, Haas, +1.948
9. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, +1.963
10. Sergio Perez, Force India, +2.056
11. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, +2.230
12. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, +2.294
13. Lance Stroll, Williams, +2.514
14. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, +2.896
15. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, +3.128
16. Esteban Ocon, Force India, +3.436
17. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, +3.447
18. Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber, +4.319
19. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, +4.365
20. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, +4.475